“Great attention is being paid to staff training and internal communications”
The Italian city of Bari is about to complete its transition to LibreOffice and the open document format ODF. At the end of this year, the open source suite of office productivity tools will have been implemented on 75% of the city’s nearly 1700 PC workstations. Change management is a key part of the transition, explains Marini Latini, who helped train the city’s staff members.
The Milan-based LibreOffice specialist Latini talked about some of the change management aspects, speaking at the LibreOffice conference in Aarhus (Denmark) in September. “Users are worried”, she said, “they want their tools to do their work, and so resistance to change is common.”
To keep the users involved, communication is key, she explained in Aarhus. Bari made sure that its internal IT helpdesk staff members are well-versed in using LibreOffice, and has also brought some 20 internal trainers up to speed. These instructors are important, helping colleagues find features and master the option menus.
According to Latini, a major hurdle is to integrate 3rd party applications. Many of these software solutions have no support for open standards including ODF, causing all kinds of document interoperability problems. “We contacted several software houses, but only a few of them understand document standards. Many continue to use proprietary and undocumented file formats, including RTF, which is an interoperability nightmare.”
Cost of ownership
Bari’s transition to LibreOffice began in September last year with a pilot involving about 100 workstations in departments across the city. In July, Bari announced the transition of the majority of city’s workstations. “Great attention has been paid to staff training and internal communications, key elements for achieving the goal”, the city wrote.
LibreOffice’s use of open standards is one of the reasons the city decided to switch. “The use of open standards formats is essential to ensuring the long-term access to content produced by the public administration”, Bari’s statement quotes city councillor Angelo Tomasicchio as saying.
Bari estimates it will save EUR 75,000 over the next five years, and to “significantly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership”.